Player Preview: Tobias Enstrom

I remember the first time I ever watched Tobias Enstrom play in the NHL and I remember the announcers declaring that in the old NHL, this is a player that never would have made the big leagues. Enstrom was a 23-year old rookie defenseman for the Atlanta Thrashers and he was only 5’10. One thing was evident however, and that was that this kid could flat out play.

Today, Tobias Enstrom is the leader on the Jets blueline, and one of the NHL’s most potent offensive defensemen. While he’s not Nicklas Lidstrom, Enstrom must’ve been a big fan of his fellow countryman because his hockey IQ and decision-making skills are among the top of the brains in the league.

Enstrom is a Godsend player for the Jets, and having him for a full season last year is one of the reasons the club was in playoff contention. Losing Enstrom for any amount of time is a loss for the group. As long as he’s in the lineup, the Jets are a better team.

PERFORMANCE

Enstrom extra skater

When Enstrom is at his healthiest, he is a threat to score 50 points, but he has settled into a 40-point player for the majority of his career. Last year, Enstrom’s offensive numbers came down as he was enthralled with tough defensive assignments. 

Considering Enstrom’s Corsi numbers were above 50% while playing against the top competition in the Western conference, it’s safe to say that Enstrom has solidified his place as a number one defenseman.

He has yet to eclipse his highest-scoring season of 51 points in the final season in Atlanta, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t do it again.

EXPECTATIONS

BottomLine

What more can you expect of a guy like him? Enstrom will produce at both ends of the rink and as long he stays healthy, he even deserves to garner some Norris Trophy votes. He won’t win because the team is likely headed for an early golf tee-time booking, but he’s a genuine threat to be one of the top-scoring defenders in the league.

Enstrom played with Byfuglien, Bogosian and Trouba during the season, and it’s likely that he will lineup with Bogosian once again this year to take on the opposition’s best forwards. Enstrom makes Bogosian a better player, and Bogosian is a solid enough defender to ensure Enstrom can roam from time to time to produce offence.

Enstrom will also get a lot of power player time, as he showed in his rookie season and every year since then, he is a power play quarterback. 

THN predicted 45 points from Enstrom, and i’m close to that boat. I’m saying Enstrom stays healthy and plays 79 games, garnering 10 goals and 31 assists for a 41-point season. 

MAJOR QUESTIONS

1.    
Will Enstrom’s defensive responsibilities hinder
his offensive production?

Last season Enstrom saw his numbers drop
due to increased defensive responsibilities, and it will be somewhat a repeat.
Enstrom may not be able to score 50 points, but his 31 from last year is too
low. On your draft day, pick him reasonably high.

2.    
How many power play points will Enstrom score?

He’s a power play quarterback, so Enstrom’s
power play production is vital to the team’s success. While there is some concern
about his even-strength play (he only scored 17 of his 31 points at
even-strength) as long as he continues to score on the power play, he will help
the team. Considering I predicted 41 points, I expect 25 of them to come on the
power play.

3.    
Are the Jets asking too much of Enstrom?

Ideally, it would be nice if Trouba was able
to shore up his defensive game quickly to give some relief to Enstrom, but the
fact is Enstrom is paid to be a top defender so the added responsibility comes
with the territory. Bogosian was paid handsomely as well to play on the top
pairing, and after those players the depth is underwhelming. Enstrom proved he
can handle more work, but the Jets will eventually need to give their star
defender more breaks.

  • Karlos

    The ansewr to your questions are:

    1. Yes
    2. 22+ points on PP and 35 total (because he’ll be carrying some form of an anchor which will bring his total down)
    3. Yes

    Great article! Many fans dismiss Tobi but he’s our best dman (at the moment and for the last 4 years). It’s about damn time he’s recongnized for it!

  • Karlos

    Tobi was by far our best defenseman last season, he doesn’t get nearly enough credit. If we could get a real effort out of the band aid that is Bogosian we’d be a much better team, his lack of consistency really drags the Jets down.